On Yellowstone, Brecken Merrill plays Tate Dutton, grandson to Kevin Costner's John Dutton. They shared several scenes during the show's first two seasons (not so much lately), and between takes, the veteran actor left quite an impression on the now-teenager.

"I admire him so much," Merrill tells Taste of Country during an interview for the Dutton Rules podcast. "Before every scene — it could be the most meaningless scene ever — he needs to perfect every little thing." 

That means ensuring the perfect eyeline and double-checking the smallest of details. It's what you might expect from a pro like Costner. Every other actor ToC has spoken with has offered some version of a similar story; in spite of everything he's done and everything he has going on professionally, Costner stresses the details without losing any sense of humility.

During Season 5, Merrill's Tate returns to the Yellowstone Ranch after spending the better part of Season 4 away with his mom and dad. The young cowboy was able to go on the cattle drive with his grandfather, and they exchanged dialogue that indicates the two fictional characters have kept a relationship up between episodes.

Unfortunately for Merrill, he hasn't spent too much time with Costner in the last year or two, since they have been filming on separate sets. Still, he points to his on-screen grandfather as the one who gave him the best career advice.

"In between takes, he said that — because I’m a child actor — don't sacrifice your childhood if you don’t really enjoy it," Merrill shares. "It made me think, ‘Do I enjoy acting? Do I want to continue?' And the answer is yes, I do want to continue and he kind of cleared that up for me.”

It's probably not too soon for Merrill to begin thinking of a post-Yellowstone career. He hasn't dwelled on it, but admits he'd love to play a dark character one day, maybe even one prone to violence.

On Yellowstone, he's certainly learned a thing or two about that.

Find Dutton Rules on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or wherever you podcast. You can also listen at the above player.

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